You won’t find many films about film directors because, let’s face it, we’re not exactly savory characters, certainly not everyman heroes on whom you can pin your hopes and aspirations. On the contrary: at best we’re quirky, petty despots who are deluded into thinking that what we do has more value than it really does by the underlings over whom we are despotic, until we fuck up and get flushed by the system.
Alfred Hitchcock was a particularly unsavory character, and therefore a real challenge to bring to the screen as a central character. He was obese, obsessive, perverted, creepy, alcoholic, ugly, gluttonous, insecure and sadistic—oh, yes, and somewhat comical, but with a list of adjectives like those clattering behind you as if they were cans attached to a newlyweds’ car departing a wedding designed by Tim Burton, you’d better have a sense of humor.
I like Hitchcock. I think he was a stylish, accomplished director. He might even have been great, at least for people whose tastes are more inclined towards Tales From the Crypt and crime stories than mine are. I emphatically do not agree with the British Film Institute that Vertigo is the best film of all time. It’s not the BFI’s fault, of course; they were only polling film critics, or whatever the cinema studies geeks from film school turned into professionally. I find Vertigo to be whacky and dull and overly long—harsh as it sounds, it deserved to be the box-office flop that it was. And it certainly doesn’t deserve canonization now, just because our tastes have changed from Big Themes like those behind Citizen Kane to the more macro examination of the individual as a universe unto himself.